Here is the finalized version of the Singing Storytellers Program

THURSDAY – October 9th, 2014

James McConnell Memorial Library
50 Falmouth Street, Sydney

10:00 am  –  4:00 pm

(Food will not be provided this day since most events are located downtown.)

Registration: 9:00 am – 10 am (Main Lobby)

Workshops and lecture-demonstrations (Main Library)

Host: Ken Chisholm, Storyteller-in-Residence

10:00 am -10:40 am: Come From Every Way: Canadian Songs of Immigration and Survival, Anne Lederman

10:45 am – 11:25 pm: A Scottish town in five songs, David Scott, University of the West of Scotland.

11:30 am – 12:10 pm: The Storyteller who Stopped in the Middle: In Turkic Siberia, spirits set rules, Kira Van Deusen.

12:15 pm – 12:55 pm: Hootenanny Tonite: Pete Seeger – American Troubadour – the early years, Leo Feinstein.

1:00 pm – 1:40 pm: The Wild Woman Archetype: From Fairy Tales and Myths to Song, Rita di Ghent, York University.

Singing and Storytelling: Creativity, Healing and Empowerment in Indigenous Communities (Main Library)

Chair: Amber Ridington

1:50 pm – 3:20 pm

Dancing in My Bones, Daya Madhur, University of Alberta

The Impact of Music, Donovan Shirt, iHuman Youth Society

Tunes and Talk: Journey of Healing, Michael MacInnis and William “Loppy” Herney

Presentations and Papers (Program Room)

Host: Todd Pettigrew, Cape Breton University.

10:00 am – 11:00 am:  Every force evolves a form”: the mediatization of Scotland’s bardic tradition with reference to Sorley MacLean and Hamish Henderson (paper/film screening/workshop), Kathryn A. Burnett, University of the West of Scotland.

11:00 – 11:30 am: Digital Technology and a Changing Folk Music Mediascape (paper/performance), Wayne Hansen, University of New Brunswick, Saint John.

11:30 am – 12:00 pm: Arash the Archer: A Persian Operatic Narration (paper), Afarin Mansouri Tehrani, York University.

Feature Presentations:

12:00 pm – 1:00 pm: Sing as if narrating, narrate as if singing: A Literary Duet, Gary Geddes and Ann Eriksson.

1:00 pm – 1:40 pm: Orality and Poetry: Cultivating Melody, Metre, and Memory in the Storytelling Body, Shauntay Grant, University of British Columbia.

1:50 pm- 2:20pm: Performing Folk Tales in the Sung Sufi poetry of Pakistan: A Lecture/Demonstration, Shumaila Hemani, University of Alberta.

Storytelling in Popular Song – Paper Session – (Program Room)

Chair: Gillian Turnbull, Ryerson University
2:30 pm – 4:00 pm

Surgical Crimes: The Transhumanism of Jonathan Coulton, Todd Pettigrew, Cape Breton University.

Tradition and Authorship in Contemporary Cowboy Songs, Gillian Turnbull, Ryerson University.

“’I Wish I Was With Them Again’: Diasporic Longing in Contemporary Cape Breton Song.” Amanda Daly Berman, Boston University.



Cape Breton University Library
1250 Grand Lake Road, Sydney
4:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Literary Reading:

4:00pm – 5:00pm

Featuring Ann Eriksson, Gary Geddes, and Bob Holman.


James McConnell Memorial Library
50 Falmouth Street, Sydney
6:00pm – 7:00pm

Children’s Storytelling

6:00pm – 7:00pm

Jon Maia a renown “Bertsolari”  (an improvisor-bard), film maker and writer, will be reading one of his children’s books.



Sydney Curling Club
619 George Street.
7:00pm – 9:00pm

Special Event:

“A Life in Song and Story”

Moderator: Lillis Ó Laoire, National University of Ireland, Galway

Matthew Allen’s documentary film on the life of famed traditional Irish singer Seán Ó Sé will be screened at this session. Seán Ó Sé will also give a performance/presentation. The session will conclude with a question and answer period moderated by Lillis Ó Laoire, National University of Ireland, Galway.

Seán Ó Sé: A Life in Song and Story / Saol Caite le hAmhrain agus Scealta (Documentary Film), Matthew Allen, Wheaton College.

Abair Amhran: Say Me a Song, Seán Ó Sé

Friday October 10th, 2014

Cape Breton University
1250 Grand Lake Road, Sydney
9:00 am – 11:30 pm

Registration: 8:30 am – 9:00 am (Great Hall)

SPECIAL EXHIBIT  (Sydney Credit Union)

9:00 am – 5:30 pm

Bringing Storytellers to the Screen Through The Films of Vincent Moon, Ely Rosenblum, ART/E/FACT, University of Cambridge

Opening Plenary Session (Multi-Purpose Room)

9:00 am – 10:00am

Welcome by Tanya Brann-Barrett, Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies.
Introduction by Marcia Ostashewski, Cape Breton University

The Gathering Song, Stephen J. Augustine, Dean of Unama’ki College, Cape Breton University.

Nutrition Break (Great Hall) – 10:00am-10:30am

Epics of the East (Multi-Purpose Room)

Chair: Louise Wrazen, York University
10:30 am – 12:00 pm

The Performative Aspect of Karakalpak: Epic Poems from Central Asia, Frederic Leotar, Universite de Montreal

Singers/Storytellers of a Sufi Ritual: Faqirs, the Mystical Bards Singing the Shah-jo-Raag in Sind, Pakistan, Shumaila Hemani, University of Alberta

From Tea Dance to iTunes: Contemporary Practices of Dane-zaa (northwestern Athabaskan) Dreamer’s Music (Library Lounge)

Panel Coordinator: Amber Ridington, Memorial University of Newfoundland
10:30 am – 12:00 pm

Doig River Drummers (opening performance), Trail Reiter, Dusty Oker, Johnny Askoty, Les Davis, Robert Dominic, and Garry Oker

Cultural Mashup: Dane-zaa Dreamer’s Songs and the Modern Sound, Gary Oker

Continuity, and Innovation in an Athapascan Dreamer’s Song Tradition: A Comparative Analysis, Amber Ridington, Memorial University of Newfoundland

Dreamers Prophecy Video (film screening), followed by discussion

Closing Performance, Doig River Drummers

Lunch Break (Great Hall) – 12:00pm-1:00pm

Performance Presentation (Boardmore Playhouse)

Moderator: J. Martin Daughtry, New York University
1:00 pm – 2:30 pm

“Abrasha Hero of a Thousand Ryhmes”
Psoy Korolenko, Moscow, Russian Federation

This performance highlights one of the best-known and most well-regarded artist whose work engages with the Russian bardic tradition. It will be followed by a moderated discussion on themes related to the conference.

Singing the Stories of Injustice: Bards as Witness (Library Lounge)

Chair: Deborah Adelman
1:00 pm – 2:30 pm

Big Bill Broonzy’s Reinvented Persona and the Folk Revival, Larry Ward, College of DuPage

At the Core of Injustice: Chilean Identities and the music of Violeta Parra, Deborah Adelman, College of DuPage

Bob Dylan and the Black Panther Party, James Madigan

Nutrition Break (Great Hall) – 2:30pm-3:00pm

Film Screening (Art Gallery)

Presented by: Jon Maia

3:30 pm – 5:30 pm

BERTSOLARI (Asier Altuna, Director)

This film is a journey through time in the history of the art of the “Bertsolari” (“improvisor-bard”), as well as the creative process and experiences of the performer. It explains the vision, techniques and strategy of the Bertsolari and his role in society. The film was a finalist at the International San Sebastian Film Festival, and features Jon Maia.

Keynote Addresses (Multi-Purpose Room)

3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Introduction by Andrea Bohlman, University of North Carolina

Cabaret Stories: Intimate Stories of Jewish Modernity, Philip V. Bohlman, University of Chicago.

4:15 pm – 5:15pm

Introduction by Jon Kertzer, University of Washington

Lost in improvisation: The vocal arts of Mande Jelis, Lucy Duran, The School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

Banquet (Verschuren Centre) – 5:30pm-7:45pm

Concert (Boardmore Playhouse)

MC: Jon Kertzer, University of Washington
8:00 pm – 10:00 pm

“Griots and Kobzars: Epic Storytellers South and North”

Hawa Kasse Mady Diabate (vocals)
Fode Lassana Diabate, (balafon)
Julian Kytasty, bandura
Scott Sharplin, storyteller

This concert will feature two musical and theatrical multimedia performance pieces that draw on the singing and storytelling of epic singers of Mali and Ukraine – performed by musicians who are among the world’s most renowned of these traditions.

The first is a new performance commissioned specially for the conference, of the core Mande epic, Sunjata Keita, performed along with poetic translations of the sung story by Professor Cherif Keita (Carleton College). Featuring Hawa Kasse Mady Diabate (vocals), Fode Lassana Diabate, (balafon) from Mali.

The second is Songs of Truth. Epic “dumy,” ballads and tunes – the traditional repertoire of Ukrainian kobzars – are interwoven with poetic, performative translations. Featuring: Julian Kytasty, bandura and Scott Sharplin, storyteller.

CD Release Party – Songs of Truth by Julian Kytasty (Faculty Lounge)

10:00 pm – 11:30 pm

Saturday October 11th, 2014

Cape Breton University
1250 Grand Lake Road, Sydney
9:00 am – 4:00 pm

Registration: 8:30 am – 9:00 am (Great Hall)

SPECIAL EXHIBIT  (Sydney Credit Union)

9:00 am – 5:30 pm

Bringing Storytellers to the Screen Through The Films of Vincent Moon, Ely Rosenblum, ART/E/FACT, University of Cambridge

Celtic Connections: Contemporary Creativity, Traditional Tunes (Multi-Purpose Room)

Chair: Chris McDonald, Cape Breton University
9:00 am – 10:30 am

Mouth Music for the People: Capercaillie, Scots-Gaelic Culture as a National Symbol, and the Global Celtic Stage, Peter Shirts, University of Hawaii at Manoa

Stabbed! Towards a Musical Tartan Noir, David Scott, University of the West of Scotland

Poets and Singers of the Great Ocean, Lillis O Laoire, National University of Ireland, Galway

Singing, storytelling and the study of poetry and literature (Royal Bank Room CE258)

Chair: Dana Mount, Cape Breton University
9:00 am – 10:30 am

Bob Holman’s Ekphrastic Performances, Mark Silverberg, Cape Breton University

Phonophobia; or, Singers, Tales and Theory’s Aversion to Hearing Itself, Peter McMurray, Harvard University

‘How Does the Story Go? How Do I Go?’:  Indigenous Storytelling and Subject Production in Joan Crate’s Breathing Water,  K.J. Verwaayen, University of Western Ontario

Nutrition Break (Great Hall) – 10:30am-11:00am

Bards and Contemporary Popular Musics (Royal Bank Room -CE258)

Chair: Richard MacKinnon, Cape Breton University
11:00 am – 1:00 pm

Spitting (Hi) Stories: Taiwan Rap and Narratives of the Past, Meredith Schweig, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Land of Some Other Order: Imaginary Narratives in Drone Metal, Owen Coggins, The Open University

Let Them Bleed: The Personal and Mythic Stories of Tori Amos, Chris McDonald, Cape Breton University

Global Griots (Multi-Purpose Room)

Chair: Lucy Duran, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.
11:00 am – 1:00 pm

21st Century Griots: Instrumental Story-telling in the New World, Jonathan Kertzer, University of Alberta

The Mande Epic,  Cherif Keita, Carleton College (workshop presentation)

Lunch (Great Hall) – 1:00pm-2:00pm


2:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Capt. John Smith Goes to Ukraine

Bob Holman, Susan Hwang, Julian Kytasty and

Virlana Tkacz

Everyone knows about Pocahontas, but few are aware that shortly before Capt. John Smith first sailed for Virginia, he was an adventurer in the Mediterranean where he fought the Ottoman Turks, was captured, and sold as a slave. This play is a comedy/musical/historical epic-in-an hour with 3 characters created by poet Bob Holman, performance artist Susan Hwang, Ukrainian musician Julian Kytasty and director Virlana Tkacz (Yara Arts Group, New York). It deals with Smith’s adventures in Eastern Europe circa 1603, where he first met “Other” people and gained experience that helped him prepare to interact with Indigenous North Americans as founder of Jamestown.

Anglican Parish of the Resurrection
Church of Christ the King
George Street, Sydney
7:30 pm – 9:30 pm

Special Session:

“Singing Storytellers: Back and forth across the Atlantic”

MC: Judith Cohen

This evening presents a series of performance lectures of diverse musical cultures that have traveled back and forth across the Atlantic, and are part of minority cultures within nations.

Singing diaspora – Sephardic ballads over continents and centuries, Judith Cohen, York University

A Bard from the Basque country, Jon Maia

Le conte et la chanson de tradition orale en Acadie Entre ethnographie de la memoire et pratique contemporaine, Robert Bouthillier (Canada, France)

Crown and Moose Pub
Holiday Inn
300 Esplanade, Sydney
10:15 pm

Cabaret ‘open mic’

Hosted by: Richard MacKinnon, Cape Breton University, James O,Neill, Garry Leech, Cape Breton University and Steve Melnyck

Sunday October 12th, 2014
St. Mary’s Polish Church
21 Wesley Street, Sydney
10:30 am – 1:30 pm


“A new era of Croatian gusle

Moderator: Josko Caleta, Institute of Ethnology and Folklore
10:30 am – 11:30 pm

Jura Milos (gusle)

The presentation will focus on a young generation of ‘gusle’ players, those who continue family and local traditions that established their reputation during the Croatian revival in the 1990s. One of the finest of these young gusle players, Jure Milos (Mostar University, Bosnia and Herzegovina), provides a musical dialogue and demonstrates exemplars of the tradition – in a session moderated by ethnomusicologist, musician, composer and conductor, Josko Caleta (Institute of Ethnology and Folklore, Zagreb, Croatia).

Lunch (Basement) – 11:30pm-12:00pm

Singing Storytellers of Central Europe

Chair: Marcia Ostashewski, Cape Breton University

Let’s Sing Poetry: Historical Returns and the Collective in Contemporary Polish Singer-Songwriter Practice, Andrea F. Bohlman, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Zakopower in Poland: Local Narratives Retold, Louise Wrazen, York University

Closing Remarks – Marcia Ostashewski, Cape Breton University

(Depart for The Boardmore Theatre promptly at 1:00 pm)

Cape Breton University
1250 Grand Lake Road, Sydney

Celtic Colours International Festival Presents

“Bards of the World”

2:00pm – 4:00pm

As advertised on the Celtic Colours International Festival website:

Whether they’re known as griots, kobzars, minstrels or bards, cultures around the world and throughout time have relied on singing storytellers as a vital source of oral history and entertainment. Today, in conjunction with Cape Breton University’s Singing Storytellers International Conference, we’ll introduce you to bardic traditions from Africa to Ukraine and Ireland to Cape Breton, through the songs and stories of these modern day practitioners of this age-old tradition. Seán Ó Sé, Buddy MacDonald, and Lewis MacKinnon represent the tradition as it extends back to Ireland and Scotland. Spoken word performer and musician Shauntay Grant grew up surrounded by the oral tradition of storytelling in her family. Julian Kytasty is one of few bandura players today who performs music from the kobzar tradition of Ukraine and Hawa Kassé Mady Diabaté comes from a family of singers who have performed Griot music for centuries in Mali.